Tuesday 20 August 2013

Review: Covenant – 'Leaving Babylon'

'Leaving Babylon'

The recent EP release 'Last Dance' was an intriguing one. In the aftermath of Daniel Myer's departure from the band there was a question mark hanging over Covenant for a while. But 'Last Dance' for the moment showed there was light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time, every member of the band contributed to the songwriting duties for a brief but diverse outing that displayed a fresh edge to their signature sound. But now the true test comes in the form of the band's latest studio album 'Leaving Babylon'.

From the opening strains of the title track, it's evident that the band have continued the momentum from the EP. The backbone of the album is made up of the tried and tested reverential synth euphoria we've come to expect from the band. Which they execute perfectly on tracks like 'Last Dance', 'Prime Movers', 'For Our Time' and 'Ignorance And Bliss'.

But there are some quirky departures that retain the band's dance credentials while at the same time pushing their sound a bit further than in recent years. The harpsichord of 'Thy Kingdom Come', the sporadic guitar and chip glitches of 'I Walk Slow', the piano lead on the closing ballad 'Not To Be Here', and even the ambient drone of the hidden track 'Leaving Babylon II' all hark back to the more adventurous years of Covenant with a distinct emotional immediacy.

This is a very strong release. The band have shown us their cards and they have a pretty decent hand. But despite the renewed focus, there is still the feeling that they're just holding something back. The songs are – as always – well written, performed, produced and overall a little more mid-paced than we're used to. But they don't really push things as far as they hinted at on the 'Last Dance' EP. Instead they've opted for a slow build and revealed just enough to pique people's interests to see where they take it from here, but more than enough to restore your faith.  

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